|Subject: SMH: Shadowy army force behind attack on UN
Date: Sun, 01 Aug 1999 11:16:34 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday, July 27, 1999
Shadowy army force behind attack on UN
Photo: Strength in numbers ... Some 200 Indonesian Mobile Brigade policemen disembarking at Dili port yesterday to reinforce police on the ground ahead of the vote on East Timor's future late next month. Photo by AFP
By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Dili
An attack against the United Nations office in the East Timorese town of Maliana last month was organised by a shadowy network of militia and army officers, according to information received by the Herald.
During the June 29 assault in the town, regarded as a pro-Indonesian stronghold, militiamen threw rocks at the UN office, injuring a South African electoral officer and forcing the temporary withdrawal to Dili of six electoral officers.
The attack made international headlines and embarrassed the Indonesian Government, already under fire for failing to curb militia violence.
The Herald has learnt from diplomatic sources that a report on the attack has been completed and copies passed to the Defence Minister, General Wiranto, and the head of Udayana (Eastern) Command, Major-General Adam Damiri.
It names among the suspects four senior sergeants in the army who it alleges control and regulate all militia activity in Maliana, a recently retired sergeant and the town's chief of army intelligence, Lieutenant Satrisno.
Three of the veteran sergeants have been based in East Timor since the 1975 invasion. The military commander in Maliana is Lieutenant-Colonel Berhanudin Syagian, while militiamen involved in the attack have been identified as members of the Dadurus Merah Putih (Typhoon) under the command of Paulos Ferreira. "The report implicates the Dandim [district military commander] by name and the chief of intelligence by title," said the source, who asked not to be named.
It concludes that the attack on the UN was a local initiative and its architects were unprepared for the resulting publicity.
Maliana, the south-west provincial capital of Bobanaro, has been the scene of frequent militia violence and voter intimidation.
There is close co-operation between local government officials, the militias and army, who have warned the UN that any attempt by the pro-independence groups to set up an office could provoke a violent confrontation.
Two pro-independence leaders are based in the local police station for their own security, although Colonel Syagian has authorised one pro-independence office to open in time for political campaigning.
The Herald has learnt that several senior officers were threatened with transfer orders over their involvement in the June 29 incident. Jakarta-based commanders are known to be concerned about the negative impact on the army's image as a result of the attack.
General Damiri is reported to have visited Maliana twice over the past 12 days to monitor the situation in the town, one of the biggest trouble spots for the UN Assistance Mission in East Timor.
In related developments, an acting UN spokesman, Mr Hiro Ueki, said two voter registration centres in Balibo, close to Maliana, were closed on Sunday as a result of militia threats.
Trouble started when a group of 20 to 30 militiamen approached the centres and tried to register using only a government-issued identity card.
They were turned away because they were unable to produce evidence of voter eligibility, Mr Ueki said yesterday.
"The militia group threatened to destroy the centres and as a result they were closed," Mr Ueki said.
Yesterday all 200 voter registration centres across East Timor were open and UN sources said more than 180,000 people had been registered - well above expectations.